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July 10, 2006

Drumcree's Handful of Police

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 07/10/06
Drumcree's Handful Of Police
BT 07/10/06 IRA Statement On Murder 'Rubs Salt In Wounds'
BT 07/10/06 Fears Justice Groups Are Own 'Police'
BT 07/10/06 £3.3m Aid To Replace Loyalist Murals
OF 07/10/06 Family Of Joe McDonnell Attend Drumkeeran Ceremony
BT 07/10/06 Opin: Clean Up And Lighten Up The Bonfires


Drumcree's Handful Of Police

10 July 2006

On one side of the divided road crowds of Orangemen and
their supporters marched defiantly to the small police
barricade. On the other side a handful of nationalist
observers stood in silence.

Just half a dozen police officers stood between the two
sides, who for many years had to be separated by riot
police, the Army and heavy fortifications.

Although police Land Rovers were parked at sensitive
flashpoints across the town, a water cannon placed on
standby and a police helicopter deployed, there was little
sign that any trouble was expected.

Police appeared relaxed but alert as they read newspapers
or chatted. The only sign of conflict from previous years
was barbed wire across a field.

Heavy black iron gates at the foot of Drumcree Hill, that
for years were firmly shut during the demonstration,
remained open.

"This has been a positive day for the whole of Portadown.
There was considerable optimism before the parade and quite
clearly that optimism was justified.

"The Orange Order parade and protest has been orderly,
peaceful and well marshalled. There has been no trouble
here and we hope and trust that pattern will continue for
the rest of the marching season," said District Commander,
Acting Chief Superintendent Alan Todd.

Although this is the fourth year that Drumcree has passed
off peacefully, there was little sign of an imminent
resolution or agreement between the two communities.


IRA Statement On Murder 'Rubs Salt In Wounds'

10 July 2006

A political row broke out last night following a statement
from the IRA insisting murdered mother-of-10 Jean
McConville was an informer.

Reacting to the latest development, which came 24 hours
after the Police Ombudsman said there was no evidence to
suggest Mrs McConville had ever passed information to the
security forces, the SDLP criticised Sinn Fein leader Gerry
Adam's response to the issue.

In a statement, party leader Mark Durkan said, whatever the
circumstances surrounding Mrs McConville's killing, the
burial of her remains by the IRA was a great injustice to
the family.

Mr Durkan said: "A mother was abducted, taken away and shot
through the head. A life was extinguished, a family
bereaved and broken up and all Gerry Adams says is that it
was wrong that the dead body was never returned. That is
unethical and unacceptable."

The party's justice spokesman Alban Maginness added: "This
is not just about politics and the law, it is about basic
morality and human decency. The McConville family have
already been told too many lies and suffered enough, but by
their statements the IRA and Gerry Adams continue to rub
salt in the wounds."

On Friday, Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan said intelligence
had been extensively examined and there was no evidence to
support claims Mrs McConville was working as an informer.

But in a statement released on Saturday, the IRA insisted a
"thorough investigation" confirmed she was "working as an
informer for the British army".

Mrs McConville was one of nine 'Disappeared' victims of the
IRA who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried between
1972 and 1981.

In 1999, the IRA admitted they had killed Mrs McConville
and several other of the 'Disappeared', but alleged some of
them had been informers.

In 2003, the west Belfast mother's remains were found on
Templeton beach in Co Louth.


Fears Justice Groups Are Own 'Police'

10 July 2006

Controversial restorative justice groups are becoming
alternative police forces dominated by ex-paramilitaries,
MPs have warned.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson claimed both republicans and loyalists
are using the schemes to "bypass" the police.

New Government guidelines published in December allowed
officially-sanctioned neighbourhood justice schemes to deal
with low-level crime as long as police are informed. But in
republican areas, where Sinn Fein and its supporters refuse
to engage with the PSNI, the Youth Justice Agency or the
Probation Board can be contacted.

Speaking in a Westminster debate, the East Antrim MP said:
"The schemes give Sinn Fein considerable control over a
local area, and since it neither recognises the legitimacy
of the police nor co-operates with them, Sinn Fein is in
effect, an alternative police force in republican areas.

"I see the same happening in loyalist areas, and the
schemes provide local Sinn Fein representatives, or indeed
local representatives of one of the loyalist political
parties, with considerable ability and strength.

"If there is a problem in an area, they refer the person
and the perpetrators to a scheme that they control and they
get it sorted."

He added: "At every turn, there are ways for the schemes to
bypass the police."

The schemes - originally established in a bid to reduce
punishment beatings - have been infiltrated by former
paramilitary figures, the MP argued.

"There are 18 such schemes in Northern Ireland - four in
what would be regarded as loyalist areas, mostly staffed by
ex-paramilitaries and people who were involved with
loyalist paramilitary groups, and 14 in republican areas,
almost exclusively staffed by people who had associations
with the IRA, of whom most have served time in prison for
terrorist offences," he added.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan warned police officers may use the
CRJ groups to "abdicate their responsibilities".

He said: "Some police officers would be happy to take the
line, 'Well, we just police the highways and we let someone
else police the alleyways and byways'."

In October, the Policing Board warned Secretary of State
Peter Hain of fears that community groups could squeeze out
the PSNI by running their own CRJ groups with no police

Security Minister Paul Goggins revealed the NIO would
announce the results of a consultation on the new
guidelines for the CRJ schemes by the end of this month.

He said: "All criminal cases referred to restorative
justice schemes will have been investigated by the PSNI and
will be referred by the Public Prosecution Service.

"There is no back door route to restorative justice; things
have been through the front door and with the full consent
and involvement of criminal justice agencies."


£3.3m Aid To Replace Loyalist Murals

10 July 2006

The Government today unveiled a £3.3m package of investment
to replace paramilitary murals in Protestant areas.

The cash injection, being announced by Social Development
Minister David Hanson, will be used to replace the current
murals with more positive images.

Mr Hanson said the investment would allow people living in
the areas concerned the opportunity to reclaim public
spaces for their community.

It will be administered by the Arts Council of Northern
Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Belfast's SDLP Lord Mayor Pat McCarthy welcomed the
development but said it was vital that it was the people
living within the communities concerned that benefit from
the investment.

"There are lots of areas that are in dire need of help and
I hope this money will be used to their benefit and not as
a sap to the paramilitaries," he told the Belfast

East Belfast Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers also
welcomed the cash boost.

"It sounds like an enormous amount of money but it will be
administered over three years and is most definitely
needed," he said.

"The sort of thing we could be talking about is the
replacement of murals with new ones about George Best or CS
Lewis, something that is linked to a particular area,
something that community can be proud of."

The cash boost is part of a £33m Renewing Communities
Action Plan package announced in April.

The package includes strategies to tackle areas of major
dereliction such as the Lower Shankill, Inner East Belfast,
Shore Road and Lower Oldpark and a new 'Fast Track'
initiative to encourage young people to stay on in
education and training after the age of 16.

A £3m Areas of Risk programme initially focusing on 10
pilot areas will also be launched.


Family Of Joe McDonnell Attend Drumkeeran Ceremony

Jul 10, 9:29 am

The wife, son and daughter of hunger striker, Joe
McDonnell, were in Drumkeeran last evening as part of a
commemoration to mark the 25th anniversary of his death in
the Maze Prison.

The McDonnell family were the guests of honour at a
ceremony to unveil a new seat to Joe McDonnell, situtated
just outside the village.

A large crowd attended to hear Goretti, Bernadette and
Joseph McDonnell thank the people of Sligo and Leitrim for
their support for Joe McDonnell in the General Election of
1981, in which he ran in the local constituency.

The event was organised by the Drumkeeran branch of Sinn

On behalf of the McDonnell family, Bernadette McDonnell,
said the support her father had received from local voters
had given him and his fellow prisoners a great boost.

Also addressing the event last evening was Owen Carron, the
former MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone.

Mr Carron was the election agent for Bobby Sands when Sands
was elected as MP for the same area.

He said there had been a great friendship between Bobby
Sands and Joe McDonnell.


Opin: Clean Up And Lighten Up The Bonfires

10 July 2006

Although significant progress has been made on the parades
front, there are still aspects of the Twelfth which need to
be addressed before the event can be truly transformed into
the tourist attraction envisaged by the Government.

A case in point is the Eleventh Night bonfires, some of
which have the capacity to create tension and friction
within local communities. Sometimes such disorder can cast
a cloud over the next day's demonstrations - both literally
and metaphorically.

While the bonfires have long been associated with the
Orange tradition, they are usually not under the control of
the Orange Order. Bonfires tend to be organised within
local communities, and it is not always clear who is
calling the tune.

Welcome moves have been made in recent years to formalise
the arrangements, with certain councils offering prizes for
the best organised bonfire. Attempts have been made to move
bonfires off streets and onto mutually agreed sites,
reducing the road repair bill for the taxpayer.

But the reality is that too many bonfires are still being
built on unsuitable sites, and are stacked high not just
with timber but with redundant car tyres as well. The
burning of tyres on bonfires is both dangerous and illegal,
yet the authorities seem powerless to intervene.

Nobody should need reminding of the hazards of burning
toxic materials such as tyres. The pollution that results
creates a significant health hazard, particularly for those
downwind of the fire. The ban on the use of tyres needs to
be enforced if it is not to be brought into disrepute.

Nobody is trying to stop the fun, but bonfire organisers
cannot continue to ignore environmental concerns. Likewise,
garages that dish out tyres to bonfire builders instead of
disposing of them as required by the law should be

In any other country, a night out at a bonfire would be an
enjoyable evening for all-comers. But here, they act too
often as an excuse for excessive drinking, unruly behaviour
and sectarian shows of strength.

Tighter controls need to be exercised both on the part of
those of influence in local communities and by the police.
Public safety should be paramount and bonfires must be
located on sites where they will not threaten residential
or commercial property.

In some areas, major strides have been made but some
bonfires are too much of a free-for-all. The objective must
be to curb the various excesses and make all Eleventh Night
events a more acceptable part of the Twelfth tradition.

Everyone should take note of the ongoing campaign to give
the Orange parades more of a carnival feel. Bonfire
organisers should follow suit, and take the fear factor out
of the Eleventh Night.

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